Monday, June 26, 1944

The Charlotte News

Monday, June 26, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page and inside page report that the Americans had broken through the last lines of German defenses to reach the docks at Cherbourg and held one-third of the city, after entering from three sides on Sunday afternoon. The Germans still commanded to the northwest of the town Cap De La Hague from which they were shelling the zone occupied by the Americans. The enemy also still held Maupertus airfield to the east.

Don Whitehead writes from the scene of the last stubborn German machinegun nests and holdouts firing from within houses, as American tanks, bazookas, anti-tank guns, mortars, and snipers poured fire into these last bastions of resistance, some underground in the fortresses guarding the city. By 11:30 a.m., he reported, it could not be said that Cherbourg entirely belonged to the Allies. Fort Du Roule, protecting the city from the southeast, had been captured by the Americans the previous night, but Germans continued to fire from lower levels of the fort--until the Americans pulled the string after depositing TNT in the gun hole, turning the noisy nest to deathly silence. There were few civilians left in the city but those few greeted the doughboys warmly.

The Navy, including the battleship Nevada resurrected from Pearl Harbor, had assisted the land forces by shelling German shore batteries for three hours on Sunday from as close to shore as five miles.

The Americans captured 3,400 prisoners during the previous 24 hours, bringing the total prisoners taken by American forces since D-Day to 20,000.

Intercepted German broadcasts from Berlin stated that it would be only a matter of hours before the remaining German defenders at Cherbourg would run out of ammunition.

The British meanwhile pushed four miles southeast of Tilly-sur-Seulles, capturing at least three towns in the vicinity of Tilly, Brettevillette, Tessel-Bretville, and Fontenay La-Presnel. Tilly was twelve miles west of Caen, the latter still strongly held by the Nazis. Having nicknamed each of the German strongholds in the area after London restaurants, the Tommies dubbed the operation the "Battle of the Pub Crawl". They had reached the enemy positions at Claridge’s and were headed for the Ritz.

The RAF the night before attacked railroads and supply dumps near Normandy, in the Forest of Bretonne and at Evrecy southwest of Caen, and struck at Homberg, northwest of Duisberg, in Germany. Bad weather limited American operations around the beachhead during the morning, but dive bombers struck targets in Cherbourg.

Some 3,500 American and British planes had raided France, from Pas-De-Calais to Cherbourg on Sunday. American forces, comprised of a thousand bombers and five hundred escorts, bombed Toulouse and at airfields in the Bourges area of France. British forces comprised of a thousand bombers hit Pas-De-Calais, as American bombers followed up the operations in combined daylight raids. Forty-three planes, including twenty heavy bombers were lost by the American forces.

More V-1's were launched against England but many were destroyed before they passed across the Channel.

On the previous Tuesday night, Germans were reported to have fought their way back into the French village of Ussel in the Correze Department, after the village had been taken previously by the Maquis. The Nazis then rounded up a hundred Partisans and summarily hanged them in the town square, announcing that order had been restored.

In Russia, in a three-day advance of more than 25 miles, four armies of Russian troops had moved through the "Fatherland Line" in White Russia to capture Vitebsk and surround 45,000 German soldiers, were also approaching Mogilev, 90 miles south of Vitebsk, and encircling the German stronghold at Zhlobin, while striking from two sides at Bobruisk, above the Pripyat Marshes. A fifth army struck at Ostrov, 165 miles northwest of Vitebsk, establishing a 325-mile front in the region, in addition to the battle ongoing for Finland. The objectives of the White Russia operations appeared to be East Prussia and the Baltic.

In Italy, the Fifth Army, without opposition on Sunday, seized the port at Piombino on the Tyrrhenian coast, opposite the recently captured island of Elba, moving to within 38 miles of the port at Leghorn. American and French forces converged on the inland town of Siena. Offensive operations continued in the fiercely defended areas around Perugia and Lake Trasimeno. Chiusi continued to be held by the Nazis.

Among the German prisoners were seventeen-year olds who were already disillusioned with the Reich. Tiger tanks, utilized as mobile 88-mm guns in the battle zone between the coast and Siena, had been brought in from France. Signal of the declining efficiency of German officers, captured orders of Field Marshal Albert Kesselring indicated that companies could not exceed 80 to 90 men for their officers not being able to exercise command over more than that complement.

The BBC reported that Mussolini had made a film of the executions of his son-in-law, Count Ciano, and four other members of the former Fascist grand council executed for treason January 10. Count Ciano had to be shot twice, having fallen forward on the first shot.

From the Marianas, it was reported that the Japanese had lost during the previous week of operations six of their carriers, the bulk of their carrier complement, in defense of the islands, along with 747 planes. Admiral Nimitz updated the report of the airplanes shot down west of Guam on June 18 to include 402, over a hundred more than originally reported.

Meanwhile, the American troops, having already obtained control of the southern half of Saipan, fought into the northern portion of the island.

From Chicago, it was reported that the Republican National Convention had convened during the morning and a preliminary assessment of pledged delegates showed Governor Thomas Dewey to have 540 votes, one more than the necessary 539 for a majority. North Carolina’s delegation was solidly behind Governor Dewey. Voting for the nomination, however, would not occur until Wednesday upon the traditional roll call of the states.

Attention turned to the question of nominating a vice-presidential candidate, Governor Earl Warren leading the list.

The eventual vice-presidential nominee, Governor John Bricker, however, was still seeking the presidential nomination, his forces insisting that he had a chance, alike the forces backing former Minnesota Governor Harold Stassen. The hopefuls pointed out that Governor Dewey had polled a plurality of votes on the first ballot in 1940, but steadily declined as Wendell Willkie gained favor until the sixth ballot found Willkie as a near unanimous choice of the thousand delegates.

Amid the sweltering Chicago heat, causing the bunting to droop, the Republicans sang "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning", "The Good Old Summertime", and the President's favorite song, "Home on the Range", whether mockishly so, especially in light of Saturday's Dorman Smith, not being indicated.

On the editorial page, "Dixie's Ills" reviews a laundry list of needs for the South put forth by Eleanor Roosevelt in the Southern Patriot: first, freight rate differentials between the South and North had to disappear; second, the Civil War had to be forgotten; third, better paid labor would produce a higher standard of living for all by creating a consumer base for manufactured goods; fourth, the preparation for caring of returning veterans had to be undertaken; finally, isolationism, previously predominating in the South, needed to give way to thinking nationally and internationally.

The editorial finds no significant argument to wage against her points, save clarifying that what she meant by isolationism in the South was vis-a-vis the rest of the country, not the type of world isolationism practiced by Midwesterners. But was that what she meant? Or was she not thinking of Senator Robert Rice Reynolds and his Vindicators, or William Pelley and his Silver Shirts, formerly of Asheville, Senator Reynolds's hometown, leading proponents of isolationism prior to Pearl Harbor, still, in the case of Senator Reynolds, promoting nationalism even in the wake of D-Day?

"Dilemma" comments on a Fortune survey which found that 22.7% of Americans expressed a desire to vote for someone other than President Roosevelt, but expressing simultaneous doubt that the Republicans would nominate a viable alternative. Among other respondents, 24.9% would accept any Republican alternative, while 44.1% expressed firm support for FDR. A third of the wavering group, plus ten percent of the FDR supporters, indicated that they would vote for a Republican running on a liberal platform, endorsing commitment to an international organization backed by force, Federal oversight of collective bargaining and employment conditions generally, and protection of labor unions.

The piece did not foresee the Republicans meeting the wish list with Thomas Dewey or John Bricker.

"Mr. Huffman" expresses approval of the decision by local War and Community Chest director Fred Huffman to remain in Charlotte, turning down an offer by New York State, praising his significant contributions of service to the community.

"A Victory" expresses amazement at the stunning losses registered by the American Fifth Fleet and Task Force 58 against the Japanese west of Guam and in the vicinity of the Marianas and Bonin Islands. Admiral Nimitz had revealed that 747 planes had been shot down, of which 402 were in the action west of Guam, that 30 ships had been sunk, another 51 damaged. Against these heavy losses, the Americans suffered no losses of shipping and 95 planes shot down, losing 49 airmen.

At that rate of disproportionate losses, the Japanese, suggests the piece, could not much longer sustain their war effort, especially as these losses had come in critical areas which constituted their inner ring of defenses.

Samuel Grafton discusses the beginning of the party conventions, that the platforms, being typical, would ordinarily serve little but cosmetic applications of principles to which no one would remain bound in the campaign or afterward, high-sounding rhetoric and platitudes in the end signifying little or nothing. But, this time around, the fact that both parties would likely construct a plank on foreign affairs which would be similar to one another in endorsing an international organization similar to that endorsed by the Connally Resolution, suggested something of substance which would at least send a signal to the world that the there was unity in the country on this basic premise of proceeding into the post-war world.

Yet there still remained exceptions to the unity in the Congress, such as when Senator Styles Bridges of New Hampshire, a proponent of the Connally Resolution, had risen in defense of the Finnish Ambassador, Hjalmer Procope, after he and his legation had just been expelled from the country for the continued support of the Nazis by Finland. Too many such defenses of Finland, suggests Mr. Grafton, could wind up offending the Russian ally in the midst of their war with Finland.

So, to maintain this notion of world peace after the war, there needed to be constant vigilance provided the maintenance of the wartime alliances, to nurture the amity necessary to assure the sustenance of the planned post-war organization.

Marquis Childs reports of the assertion by U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Eric Johnston in Russia that Russia's needs to rebuild their war-battered country after the war would establish an inevitable economic alliance with America based on the need for American manufactured goods which would eagerly be supplied by American industries. He believed that this cement would hold together the two countries for twenty to twenty-five years after the war.

But in the meantime, stateside, trouble to these potentially friendly relations still brewed as evidenced by the reaction to the expulsion of the Finnish delegation by the anti-British, anti-Russian, anti-Administration bloc of interests in the country, having been sold by the Finnish delegation on the evils of the Soviet Union. The fact that they had performed such a good job of salesmanship on the antithetical idea was why they were being expelled.

The Finns had been offered peace terms by the Soviets, but, naively believing that American aid would be provided them should they be attacked by the Russians, they had refused the terms with the consequence of overwhelming defeat now being suffered at the hands of the Red Army. Mr. Childs remarks that it would be ashamed should they wind up with their country destroyed.

Drew Pearson offers an impressionistic sketch of Thomas Dewey, from his early ambition to become an opera singer, failing that, to becoming a somewhat personally conceited gangbuster as New York District Attorney. Yet, questions had arisen during his first year and a half as Governor as to why he had not pursued the grand jury investigations undertaken at the behest of his predecessor, Governor Lehman, into the practices of the hod-carriers union, the result of workers being accosted at the Delaware River water supply aqueduct. Moreover, the union had made contributions to the Republican general campaign fund and submitted a $2,500 check for legal advice, signed by the union's vice-preident, to a judge who was one of the Governor's principal confidantes and a delegate to the convention.

Perhaps, in deference to the hod-carriers union, Governor Bricker would be chosen as Governor Dewey's running mate.

Hal Boyle, in England, reports from a hotel where, after the band had stopped playing and the patrons of the grill began to file out, a young Royal Norwegian Air Force Spitfire pilot sat down at the piano and began plunking, in boogie-woogie manner, "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" and "St. Louis Blues". The patrons stopped their exodus and again began tapping their feet and moving to the rhythms. He was provided beer and continued playing until nearly morning as soldiers and their dates surrounded the piano, listening to everything from Schubert's "Serenade", (cf. Beniamino Gigli, last week), to "Pistol Packin' Mama", that after one of the girls had interrupted the somber presentation with, "Don't you know there's a war on? Turn on more of your bloody boogie-woogie."

Thor, as he gave his first name only, explained that he had taken up piano in Norway at age six and had gone to America at age sixteen to refine his art, which is where he learned to speak English. The young pilot, as with his fellow young Norwegians, liked American jazz and swing. He had been on more than a hundred missions but was now in a six-month hiatus from flying. His piloting skills, learned in Canada, formed part of the second largest refugee air force in the war, the Poles having the largest. Thor was only a lieutenant but had two stars on his lapel, causing confusion once at a bar, when another soldier thought him a major general. Thor was 21 years old.

Speaking, as on Saturday, of taking things out of context, as well as of wars and rumours of wars, and then trying to divine meaning from the thing thus abstracted to suit one's own preconceived ideas, we note from the current issue of Time an article which addresses the question of whether William Shakespeare smoked cannabis and whether it was his muse. A lunatic in South Africa wants to exhume the bones of Shakespeare, contrary to the Will of the curse, to test them to determine the answer.

We propose instead to test the lunatic for drug use. Aside from a gross publicity stunt for whacko research conducted by some "academic" in search of a brain with which to think, the basis for his wild, childish leap of the imagination rests not even in any logic or contextual understanding. It is based on the following, Sonnet 76:


Why is my verse so barren of new pride,
So far from variation or quick change?
Why with the time do I not glance aside
To new-found methods, and to compounds strange?
Why write I still all one, ever the same,
And keep invention in a noted weed,
That every word doth almost tell my name,
Showing their birth, and where they did proceed?
O! know sweet love I always write of you,
And you and love are still my argument;
So all my best is dressing old words new,
Spending again what is already spent:
For as the sun is daily new and old,
So is my love still telling what is told.

The lunatic hinges his "theory" to the line, abstracted without thought, "And keep invention in a noted weed". What that plainly means within the frame of the short sonnet is that the author wearied of seeking new expressions of a worn theme, yet finds that the tiresome refrain came only from his love for the addressee of the posts on the wind. The Sonnets use "weed" in the same context, something old or worn, on other occasions. For instance, Sonnet 94 reads in part: "The summer's flower is to the summer sweet, Though to itself, it only live and die, But if that flower with base infection meet, The basest weed outbraves his dignity: For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds; Lilies that fester, smell far worse than weeds.

The would-be digger wasp also makes note of "compounds strange". But the line asks pensively why the author did not "glance aside" to "new-found methods and compounds strange". It is again addressing, in context, his writing method, or perhaps his marital status, not something material. Moreover, the line implies that he had not partaken of the "compounds strange", regardless of what compounds they were.

The other "evidence", according to Time, pointing to the supposition is a pipe supposedly found in Shakespeare's garden bearing traces of cannabis and cocaine. But, reading the earlier report on the subject from 2001, it becomes plain that the Time reporter simply misstates the facts of the case, apparently not bothering to read the prior account. The discovered cocaine residue came from a pipe from the garden of the mother of John Harvard. So maybe John Harvard's mother, or some hapless wanderer through her garden yard, dabbled in cocaine, not Shakespeare.

And the cannabis? That apparently, too, came from a "nearby" house in Stratford, not the Bard's garden, as Time carelessly reports.

The bottom line is that there is absolutely no evidence, none, connecting Shakespeare with use of any form of drug. That is, unless we should all be made responsible for what some idiot divines from artefacts dug up from our neighbors' gardens 400 years from now, and then hitches to an inference via some reference in a writing of poetry, which, 400 years later, may suggest a cant drug reference based on a colloquialism subsequently in use. Given some neighbors' gardens, we shudder at the thought.

Furthermore, according to Oxford, "weed" in reference to marijuana did not come into use until 1929, originating then in the United States. "Weed" did, however, connote ordinary tobacco in Shakespeare's time, viz.: 1606, Warner, Alb. English, XIV, xci, "An Indian weede, That feum'd away more wealth than would a many thousands feed"; and, 1609, Dekker, Guls Horne-booke, iv., "Where, if you cannot reade, exercise your smoake, and inquire who has writ against this divine weede."

We have.

So, dumb bell. Yeah, you. We shall save you the curse of the bones. Don't dig. You have already dug too far, far, far too far.

The only thing which this story demonstrates is how rumors, sometimes about the living, get started, get picked up by careless reporters, are transmitted to the public as fact, without questioning anything about their logical merit or their context in time, place, and story, even misreading another report on the subject from ten years ago. We trust that the reporter for Time will be relegated to dealing only with the dead, for the protection of the living public. You waste our time in matters irrelevant.

But, on second thought, maybe Shakey sat around his pad, and, picked up his cell phone and said, "Hey, Kit, my man, got any weede? I was having some trouble, baby, with this here Sonnet 51. You know? I need, like some, inspiration. I like that Colombian you gave me last week. You got anymore, dude? I pay goode breade and promptly. The Lord Chamberlain keepes me in victuals. Can you digge?"

Compounds strange, indeed.

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